Christine Chaney

Fashion designer, esteemed architect, and visual artist Christine Chaney transforms rectilinear textiles, such as table linens and army blankets, through "folding, draping, and knotting," to make gorgeously swishing garments that can be worn forward, backward, sideways, and upside down. Using careful patterning and strategic closures, "a dress becomes a top becomes a skirt," she says of her line made from vintage silk scarves. She chooses Pucci-inspired mod prints with splendidly garish colors: swimming-pool blue, powdery green, cotton-candy pink. Others, such as a mawkish cream-toned floral, she transforms, using a "faded, post-apocalyptic overdye." The fabric is delicate, and the garments respond to movement: either bloating with air, "like a sail in wind currents" or clinging to the body and "temporarily expressing its shape."

Christine draws upon the suspension qualities of many different things: the particular way a gown's fabric sits on the shoulders and drifts down the back, for instance. She also mentions sailors' dangling supply bags; a deer she encountered, skinned, gutted, hanging in the deep woods; and a hovering cloud of flies, like "a live chandelier."

Her past art installation c/raft at Velocity Art and Design featured drippy forms and crocheted branches floating down in slings. It was inspired by Théodore Géricault's romantic masterwork The Raft of the Medusa, which depicts an unhappy scene from a historical shitstorm at sea, involving desertion, drunkenness, starvation, psychosis, murder, and cannibalism. (Amid all the death and writhing, a distinctly stylish look emerges from this painting: Men display lush hair, draped shrouds, and elegantly tattered bandages, and though their skin is discolored, their bodies are delightfully thick with muscles.)

Even more death: For a recent sculptural urn show at Lundgren Monuments, Christine created a pod from wadded-together braids and knots made of scraps of a men's funereal suit coat she'd deconstructed, not by cutting but by carefully picking apart each seam "to respect the original garment, like one respects the body." She also "saved all the buttons and tags as one would the [deceased's] memorabilia..." Sorting through belongings left behind sometimes brings families unexpected discoveries that "expose the wholeness of the person": diarized scandals, for instance, or secret collections of oddities. In a similar way, Christine says, the jacket's traditional construction appeared messy underneath its neatly finished outer layer, what with all the pocketing and slashes and rawness and chaotic stitches attaching slabs of padding.

Christine is slated for a November exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Look for her work at NuBe Green, Velouria, and Halo Salon. recommended

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